Posted by: David Vernon | April 10, 2012

My First Photoshop World

As the Photoshop World website says: “Three days of 100+ Photoshop, photography & lighting classes – taught by 40 of the best instructors”. Ladies and gentlemen – I give you Photoshop World. And for the first ever for me – I was an attendee this year. Welcome to the circus!

Photoshop World (or as it’s known: PSW) was one of those things that was always on the horizon for me – never bubbling up to the surface as a must-do event but never completely falling off the list either. But as is my want, had I not been pushed encouraged, I may never have gone. Well I was encouraged and the result was a definite two-thumbs up. Here’s my short but fairly complete report. Is PSW for you? Perhaps it is… I will be going back.

PSW has been going on for quite a few years now. It’s held twice a year. In the fall it’s hits Vegas (this year it’s Sept. 5-7), but in the spring it’s held on the East Coast. This year found it in  Washington, DC. My good padawan buddy Mike Vujovich enticed me with a half-price conference ticket last November on Cyber Monday. We essentially got the $500 (NAPP price) for $250. Okay – I was in.  Photoshop World is, as it said above, about a lot more than just Adobe products (Photoshop, Lightroom, Creative Suite). Adobe is a guest at the conference too – but the conference is run by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). So the overall conference gets into photography training, lighting training, and the graphic arts supported by Adobe’s Creative Suite. It’s the complete package.

My immersion this year was, I thought, a wonderful way to experience it all. Mike and I elected to fly into DC two days early and really experience the Capitol photographically. To that end we nearly killed ourselves running around on Thursday and Friday shooting the lights out. Thank goodness the conference started on Saturday – we were tuckered. In the three days (Saturday – Monday), I attended over a dozen classes on a wide range of topics. Not once did I feel there was something I didn’t want to see and once or twice I regretted that I could only be in one place at a time.

So here’s a summary – organized by what I liked and what I didn’t…


  • The Tracks and Classes. This is not just a Photoshop conference. Here’s what you can experience via tracks: Photoshop, General Photography, Techniques, Creative Suite, Photography A, Photography B, Lightroom, Production, and Tips & Tricks. You can mix and match however you want and there really is a feeling of fairly limitless options. Most of the classes settle in for about 60-75 minutes and they move. You get a lot of useful information in a fairly quick window so it really keeps your focus.
  • The Instructors. Some of the biggest names in the business and people that have a real passion and skill for these things. I took classes from Cliff Mautner, Matt Kloskowski, Scott Martin, Russell Brown, Joel Grimes, Dave Cross, Helene Glassman, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, David Ziser, Dan Marguilis, Ben Willmore, Dave Black, RC Concepcion, and Greg Heisler. They were literally ALL good. Everyone is pretty darn accessible. I spent 10 minutes one-on-one with Scott Martin (who is an excellent night photographer and light painter) after his session. He answered quite a few questions.
  • The Expo. For a couple hours each day, the big expo floor (pictured above) is open for your shopping/spending pleasure. They attract a lot of the top names in the industry and it’s very hands on. I found at least one toy I didn’t have (but that I coveted) and I literally think I’m one of the first people in the US to own this little Italian toy…
  • The Schedule. Frankly just right with 3-4 classes on the first day and lots of expo time, following by a more intensive second day. The third day saves some good things and starts to wind you down while winding you up.
  • Jay Maisel. While a lot of people blew me away – Jay was the man. His work – as simple as it really is – just completely moved me. I had some idea – I didn’t have it all. Worth seeing almost anywhere.
  • The First-Timers Pre-Conference. The day before the conference started we sat through an hour-long session on every little secret you need to know about the conference. Worth it.
  • The Conference Book. All the notes from all the classes in one book. That you get for free when you get there.
  • The Art of Digital Photography. A two-hour session on the second night where 10! photographers do about 12 minutes each on their latest work/their story/whatever. It was standing room only.
  • The Attendees. They’re all there for basically the same reason you are – and yet the skills are so varied and the levels of talent so broad. It was pretty cool to be surrounded by all these photographers…

The BAD (not that bad)!

  • The overall cost. While we only paid $250 for the conference (most typically pay $399-$599), the overall trip probably came close to running me $1,500 with airfare, a place to stay (we did it nicely on the cheap with, food, spending $ etc. I don’t have it in me to do this twice a year or even necessarily every year – but it is worth doing at least once.
  • Would it kill NAPP to have this conference in Chicago, Indianapolis, or St. Louis once? This was the first time in DC – typically it’s been even a little further out of reach in Boston, Orlando, or New York.
  • There were a few times I wanted to take two classes at the same time. You can’t do it. You make your choice and you go. I guess that’s a reason to go back…
  • The crowds. Okay – they weren’t really that bad but I think they had close to 5,000 attendees. I won absolutely no free swag (and they had some good prizes at the closing).
  • The total immersion. I think I literally had bruises on my feet. Washington has a lot of concrete and we walked on A LOT OF IT! But it was a great experience.

So as you can see – a lot of upside – not much downside. With classes being somewhat static within a calendar year – I would think about going every two years. But overall  – it rocked!


  1. […] serious time. While Dave chose to review Photoshop World, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and present you with some comedic relief, […]

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